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Humility as a First Step
August 5, 2016

Twenty-five years ago I first ventured to the Marshall Islands. In that one week, I felt as if I were doing nothing. My host said, ‘you’re getting to know the place for when you return.’ While I was thinking, what expertise do I bring for them? She was thinking, how do we prepare for an engaging future collaboration? She, unfortunately, passed away several years following that first moment together, but the collaborative spirit has continued for 25 years mostly, I believe, because of that first step.

I am once again in that island nation. It is my first time to visit for a different purpose. Yet, the first steps echo those of 25 years ago. I arrived without a clear idea of what might happen. So my recent collaborator and I are getting to know ourselves and our potential journey. We are coming to understand what each of us has to offer the other. It is potentially a vastly different journey than I have been on in this place before. But what a gift. To avoid getting trapped into doing the same thing over and over, but to discover new journeys that will probably have obstacles (learning), may stumble (learning), might divert in new directions (learning) and may provide each of us new ways of artistically expressing ourselves and our interests (learning).

As I consider the framing experiences of these 25 years, I see how often my creative life has been influenced by that simple understanding: Humility as a first step. Let go, open up, embrace and learn.  Maybe it’s not your expertise that you bring, maybe it’s your attitude.